The Guides

06.03.09 | 7 Comments

So hey, what are you up to this summer?

Oh yeah? Enjoying a novel? Well crazy coincidence: that’s our plan as well.

Four writers who have never before read Infinite Jest will do so for the duration of Infinite Summer. And each will be posting here weekly, not only to report on their thoughts and progress, but also to promote and facilitate discussion.

Here is our schedule, and an introduction to the Guides.

Monday: Matthew Baldwin is the thinker-upper and editor of Infinite Summer. Between his gigs as a blogger at defective yeti and a contributing writer for The Morning News, he has bestowed upon the Internet such 20-minute sensations as The IKEA Walkthrough, The 30 Least Hot Follow-ups to the 30 Hottest Things You Can Say to a Naked Woman, and The Definitive Solution to the 12-13 Man Problem. In his spare time he writes about whatever damn-fool thing enters his head, including but not limited to board game reviews, parental advice, crime fiction, and screenplays for NBC’s “The Office”. He lives in Seattle with his wife, his son, and a handful of good-for-nothing cats.

Tuesday: Eden M. Kennedy, like millions of other terrifyingly average children in the United States, learned to read when she was in the first grade. Growing up as she did in the Great Era of Burt Reynolds Movies, she hoped someday to become a long-haul truck driver. Now, as an adult, she enjoys short fuel-efficient drives to work and back while she listens to her phone, which is full of music. Eden is the proud author of the blogs yogabeans!, where her son’s action figures demonstrate the intricacies of ashtanga yoga, and Fussy, where she writes angry open letters to Justin Timberlake and chronicles her daily life. Her newest website Let’s Panic About Babies (co-authored with Alice Bradley) will be launching soon. She lives in Southern California.

Wednesday: Kevin Guilfoile’s bestselling debut novel Cast of Shadows–called “gripping” by the New York Times and one of the Best Books of 2005 by the Chicago Tribune and Kansas City Star–has been translated into more than 15 languages. He was the co-author (with John Warner) and illustrator of the #1 bestseller My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook by George W. Bush. Guilfoile is a co-founder and commissioner of The Morning News Tournament of Books, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Salon, and McSweeney’s. His second novel, The Thousand, will be published next year by Alfred A. Knopf.

Thursday: Avery Edison is a barely-twenty-something student of Comedy Writing at a university in England, which must be very hard because “university” sounds more intelligent than “college”. When not deeply engaged in her studies or the collection of gold coins in the dinosaur world, she writes a few webcomics and submits things to McSweeney’s. They get rejected. Avery feels very sad for the e-mail system at McSweeney’s HQ, which she assures herself is broken. Although ostensibly on board to provide a younger generation’s perspective on “Infinite Jest”, Avery is — in truth — only here to make sure the adults use appropriate slang, like “awesome”. Avery has been watching the MTV and thinks she’s supposed to be into the word “awesome”. Oh, and also some whiny vampires or something. Avery maintains a tumblog which features photoshopped pictures of the guy from “The Shawshank Redmption”, and thousand-word diatribes against Proprosition 8. When asked about this lack of focus, she simply mumbles “niche audience” and cries a single tear.

Friday is our wildcard slot. We’ve got a few experts on Infinite Jest and David Foster Wallace lined up to provide background information and analysis, and we’ll feature some guest Guides as well. If you’re reading the novel for the first time and would like to become a commentator, be sure to drop us a line. (Well, drop us a line in a month or so–the first few Fridays are booked solid.)

The Guides will be encouraging everyone to join in the conversation. But if an unmoderated free-for-all is more to your liking, the forums will be open for this very purpose. Like we said: however you want to spend your summer is A-OK by us.